Idle hands make Muppet monster cows

His name is Hamish.

Being incapacitated by both a bum knee and a terrible cold this weekend, I finally got to finish my highland cow pumpkin. He turned out looking more Muppet monster than highland cow, but I love him just the same.

It’s hard to believe there’s a pumpkin under there…or that I spent a solid four hours on this project.

Update…Hamish didn’t even place in the contest. And, to add injury to insult, one of the very nice ladies at the bookstore dropped him and busted two of his legs. Hamish and I are both on crutches now. Boo.

Patellar unrest and Dino’s mashed potatoes

My left knee is threatening to eat my right.

Thirty-five hours after my tumble down the stairs, my knee feels very much like it’s packed with mashed potatoes. It’s stiff. It’s hideously swollen. And, from the front, it looks a bit too much like Dino Rossi. But, it’s not permanent and the doctor yesterday said the magic words, “No surgery.”


When I fell, I hyperextended my knee. The patellar tendon, which connects my kneecap to my shin, was partially torn. The quadriceps tendon, which connects my kneecap to my thigh, was severely strained.

It sounds like bad news, but the x-rays revealed my cartilage is still in good shape (as evident by the even spacing between the bones in my knee; if cartilage was disappearing, those bones would be really close together or unevenly spaced). The crunch I heard when I fell was the tearing of that lower kneecap tendon, which is bad, but not devastating.

Dr. Rappe was the nicest, sweetest guy and he went through the x-rays and told me really interesting stuff about each. For example, he said I have the thickest kneecaps he’s ever seen. He said they’re easily double the size of the thickest male kneecap, and women’s kneecaps are usually thin (one reason women are more prone to knee injuries). He also showed me several jagged peaks inside my knee. This is scar tissue from my previous knee injury, when I tore my ACL and some cartilage. He said my recovery from that injury, my strong knees and quads, actually prevented this injury from being as severe as it could have been.

So, in spite of my mashed potato-stuffed knee, it’s actually good news. It means a few weeks of laziness and rest, and possibly frostbite from all the icepacks, but it will get better eventually and I’ll be able to get back to hiking and working out. (Remind me of this when I start getting crabby in a few days.)

In the meantime, I think my swollen Dino Rossi knee is threatening to take health care away from my healthy knee.

Breaking news: I’m a klutz

Last night, while walking down the stairs to take my dogs out for one last wee, my left foot slipped, my knee hyperextended with a loud crunch, and I fell. Within seconds, I was writhing on the carpet in extreme pain, panicked that I’d broken my leg and would need to call an ambulance. Thankfully, it only took a few seconds to realize I had a joint problem (I tore my ACL in my early 20s and I know this kind of agony very well) and to panic for a wholly different reason.

I may be the subject of a voodoo curse.

My shoulders aren’t even healed. I have a nasty head cold. And now my knee is bunged up beyond all recognition. It’s about three times its usual size and looks like an elephant’s knee. Oh, and it really, really hurts!

So, I hit the ice pack immediately, popped four ibuprofen, and plopped my knee atop four large pillows. I cried a lot and tried to sleep. Then, I listened to some late-night conservative talk radio, got pissed, and started googling knee injuries. (A former WebMD addict, I’ve moved on to Mayo Clinic. It’s way classier!)

Mostly though, I feel stupid, sad, and frustrated, and like maybe there’s some cosmic lesson I’m not getting. Or, maybe I’m just trying to understand why someone is always peeing in my Post Toasties (that’s an old expression from my dad; I so rarely get to use it).

I’ll keep you guys posted on the knee. I hate going to the doctor for these things because they only ever tell me what I already know and they charge me an assload of cash to do it. But, maybe I can get a cool brace and some even cooler painkillers. I’ll need them when the full depression of this setback starts biting in a day or two.

Ambling along at a leisurely pace, dreaming about emo cows

The chubby, short one is officially on my list.

Two schnauzers, one stump.

Dougal is tired of pre-dawn walks and is choosing instead to have morning sniff-and-stand-around sessions that thwart any efforts at burning calories. Only a random neighborhood cat or the odd raccoon get him moving at any respectable pace. Of course, as soon as we get back into the house after 40 minutes of cheering him on and trying to convince him that walking is fun, he goes into hyperdrive, running like a maniac in loops around the house, biting Barley on the ass as he passes him. It’s insane and annoying in an endearing way (after all, he’s not biting my ass). That dog is a hot mess. Thank goodness he’s adorable.

Here’s what else is happening around here:

• The newspaper business must be worse than anyone is saying. The Tacoma News-Tribune and the Seattle Times called me nine times in two days. Nine times. Nine. Times. (This is a Ferris Bueller moment, by the way.) They bunged up my voicemail inbox, prohibiting any legitimate callers (stop laughing…I get calls…on my birthday and Christmas) from leaving me messages. I may have already won a Mexican cruise and now I’ll never know about it.

• Ever since I watched an online video about a couple who abandoned their jobs and fancy house in the Silicon Valley for an 80-acre farm in the Willamette Valley, I’ve been obsessed with the idea of having my own farm.

Highland cows sorta look like Robert Redford.

Right now, I’m all about highland cows. (I’ve already been through my guinea rooster and sheep phases. My someday future farm will surely include both.) I want a highland cow so badly. In fact, I think my entry for the college’s mini-pumpkin decorating contest will be a highland cow. Stay tuned. I’ll post pictures.

• It’s pumpkin patch time! This weekend (weather permitting) will be the annual trek to the local pumpkin patch and corn maze. I’m very excited about it. I traditionally go for tall and skinny when picking a pumpkin; I like having plenty of face space for carving. But, I don’t like to think too far ahead. When choosing a pumpkin, it’s good to pick with your gut. (As a sidenote, I’m getting a new camera this week, so I’m excited to finally have non-blurry pictures to share. I dropped Old Faithful Camera several times in Montana and it hasn’t been the same since. Last weekend, the shutter stopped opening. Very sad. I’m planning a service. You’re all invited.)

What’s new with you guys?

Takin’ it to T-town

It’s official. I’m no longer a resident of Puyallup. I moved into the sprawl that is most easily described as the hinters of Tacoma, where farmhouses and apartment buildings collide. It’s an odd mish-mash area of industrial businesses (trucking companies, equipment rentals, and storage units), schools, large-lot older residential homes, and newer, upper-middle class neighborhoods. Truly, it’s a strange neighborhood. But, there’s a fresh sausage shop within walking distance, so I can’t complain.


Dougal guards his box of stuff.


Moving was a challenging experience. Here’s what I learned:

• I hoard magazines. I found in my one-bedroom apartment four stashes of magazines. In my storage closet, there was a box of magazines from 2004. There were stacks of newer magazines in my hall closet, bedroom closet, and underneath my bathroom sink. As tempting as it was to finally sort through and pull articles and recipes, I had to make a clean break. I’m in recovery now. I’m not keeping magazines anymore.

• Oven cleaning needs to be part of my life. So, I never cleaned my oven. A self-proclaimed neat freak who at least twice a week is pushing a vacuum and scrubbing a toilet, I cannot sleep if the kitchen is messy, and yet I never cleaned my oven. I feel shame. And, someday, I hope my dissolved fingernails will grow back. (Oven cleaner is horrible stuff!)

• Dougal just wants to stay where he is. Though he’s fine now, Dougal was surprisingly the more stressed out of my two dogs. Barley was the cucumber on this…and he’s never a cucumber.

So, I’m all moved in and I’m adjusting to a new schedule. I’m working out at the college fitness center and trying to bust the bad juju that place has. The energy isn’t right and I really miss all the old coots from my old gym, but I’m trying to make it work. At least I get to watch “Judge Judy” while I work out. That’s a plus. And, for as strange as the new neighborhood is, it’s nice to be in a larger, newer place that’s very far away from my former, open-door pooper neighbor. I never want to see that again. Yuck.